Arizona State's lofty 2011 hopes took a blow on Saturday night as they fell 17-14 on the road to the Illinois Fighting Illini.
An action packed start of the game saw the Illinois offense and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase score on their opening possession. However, ASU responded quickly with a nice touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler to Gerrell Robinson. The Illini managed a short field goal late in the first quarter to give Illinois a 10-7 lead.
That would be the last scoring until the fourth quarter.
Arizona State's offensive line, having only allowed one sack all season, was manhandled all game long. Osweiler was hurried throughout the game and suffered six sacks.
As bad as ASU's offense was during the second and third quarter, their defense was that good. They held the Illini without a first down in the third quarter, and ended the third at the Illini nine yard line.
The fourth quarter opened with Osweiler scoring on a nine yard run to give the Devils their first lead of the day. Another dominant possession by the ASU defense seemed to shift momentum firmly in the Devils' favor, but their offensive line let them down.
Osweiler was sacked and the ensuing fumble was recovered by Illinoi at the ASU 41. Four plays later, Scheelhaase found A.J. Jenkins for a 16-yard touchdown to take the 17-14 lead.
ASU had their chances, but in each case was undone by the inability of the passing game to get into a rhythm due to the relentless pass rush. Their final drive ended with Osweiler taking futile shots downfield while being harassed.
The loss drops ASU to 2-1 as they open Pac-12 play next week when they host USC, a team they have not beaten since 1999.